If .gov sites are any indication, and in light of the president’s caveat that our government should do for us only what we really cannot do better for ourselves, I’ve concluded that our federal government basically is convinced we need help with everything.
Deciding what car to buy? Go to the Department of Energy’s www.fueleconomy.gov, where you’ll be guided through analyzing the fuel economy of the various new and used cars you’re considering.
Need a shopping list for things you must have on hand in your baby’s layette? Go to www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy, where you also can learn the ins and outs of birthing classes, breast-feeding and circumcision.
Need a name for that baby? Go to www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames, where the Social Security Administration will hook you up with lists of the most popular girls and boys names in America.
Our federal government thinks of everything.
Lucky for us, Mr. Obama is working to make our .gov sites even better.
In December, a report titled “State of the Federal Web” revealed that our federal government has more than 1,400 domains hosting more than 11,000 .gov sites. The report includes data to be used in the .gov reform initiative, the goal of which is to cut waste and streamline service delivery and “customer service.”
What the report doesn’t include is any discussion about the cost of all these websites, information that isn’t even available from the Government Accountability Office because, as a senior press agent there told me, “That has not been studied by our office.”
Let’s all applaud the effort to streamline and reduce the number of .gov websites. But implicit assumption remains that offering customer-friendly parenting advice or landscaping ideas or a plan to drop weight before bikini season is an appropriate function of the federal government of the United States of America.
At a time when our government borrows money just to keep the lights on, we would do well to remember we’re not customers of our government, we are citizens - citizens who don’t need as much help as our .gov believes.